Let’s be honest, the best part of Thanksgiving is the dinner. The worst part of Thanksgiving is also the dinner, especially if you have invited over an aunt nobody likes or your in-laws who always told their child how they could have done so much better than you. And when the silence turns frosty at the table, sooner rather than later, someone will be liable to blow up.
Before that happens, it is up to you, the peacemaker, to start a dialogue that does not veer off into dangerous territory, namely, politics, religion, family issues and your job (or lack of one). A safe conversation starter is everyone’s favorite subject.
As mentioned before, most people are in agreement that the best part of Thanksgiving is the food. Talk about how creamy the mashed potatoes are and compliment the turkey, even if it is a bit dry. Older generations often love to talk about traditional recipes that have been passed down in the family. If you are sat near an older member of the family, it is a good idea to ask them about their secret family recipe or signature dessert. You can also talk about the best restaurants you have been to, the most unusual dishes you have tried or your favorite season of “Master Chef” or “Parts Unknown.” If that fails, then just stuff your mouth with some food.
There is always something beautifully nostalgic about remembering happy memories. You can recount a funny moment that happened during a family vacation, detail something extraordinary that happened at work or even tell an embarrassing story from your childhood. Older relatives also have the most wonderfully fascinating stories to tell about wartimes, family history or bizarre traditions.
Travel is one of the safest and most enjoyable topics to talk about at any time. Talk about that solo trip you took to explore the ancient ruins of Greece or how you lost your way coming back from the bathroom while hiking on the Inca Trail. Ask your friends or relatives what their vacation plans are, the best hotels they stayed at and discuss the pros and cons of their bucket list.
Almost everyone, including the elderly, love shows on interior designing and home improvement on HGTV. Talk about how you’d like to revamp your kitchen or what flowers you’d like to plant in your garden. You can ask your relatives what color you should paint in your living room or whether a floral wallpaper would be better.
The love of TV, movies, and books is shared by everyone. If you think silence at the table is getting awkward, start talking about what you expect on the next season of Game of Thrones or what you think about the new Bohemian Rhapsody movie. You are more likely to get hit with an “I don’t understand the things you kids watch these days” if there is an older family member at the table, but talking about an upcoming Christmas movie or a much-beloved classic books is sure to thaw them out.
If despite your best efforts, everything goes haywire, talk about how excited you are for the next big thing, Christmas. After all, who doesn’t wait in anticipation for all those presents?